Young Frankenstein is such a good parody that it could easily be a worthy sequel in the Frankenstein cinematic pantheon. It never wastes a moment to have fun with the source material and does so with respect to it through eerie castles, deep shadows and an entrancing violin score. But mostly, it’s a total goofball ride.
Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks prove they were one of the great comedy teams (also collaborating on The Producers and Blazing Saddles) perfectly mixing an unique wit with an adolescent spirit. Their jokes range from hilarious word play to countless bits about a wooden arm. The adult and the child in me both shared in the laughs, but then went back to fighting for dominance.
Wilder is not only a great comedic talent but a tremendous actor. He seamlessly evolves the character of Frederic Frankenstein from the reserved intellectual who prefers the Jewish pronunciation of his name to the manic, obsessed, eye-bulging scientist who shouts his German namesake from the top of a castle. I bet you his mother would not be thrilled.
However epic Wilder’s performance, it is the expert Marty Feldman as the worlds best-cast hunchback in history. His eyes that look like they’re about to pop out of his skull at all times are never not funny, as well as his ability to deliver lines of comedy gold (“What hump?” “It’s pronounced, ‘Eye-Gor’,” “BLUECHER!”) will forever be the stuff of legend. As a lanky individual, he gives me hope for a better life.
Brooks is famous for many works (his later stuff is not really my thing, but who cares?) but this is by far his most passionate. He takes the atmosphere, set design, lighting and every other little tidbit that made the old Universal horror movies such classics and then injects them with a satirical, child-like sense of humor syringe that I’m sure he keeps on him at all times. The result is a worthy spoof all his own.